History

Things About Dickens

Fri 25 Nov

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FIVE THINGS ABOUT DICKENSIAN CAMDEN

Charles Dickens loved Christmas. In fact, he’s often described as ‘the man who invented it’. At a time where soot was more likely to be falling from the sky than snow, the festive season had fallen out of favour, and the pages of his much loved novel A Christmas Carol brought a proper white Crimbo, along with its traditions of feasting, merry making and good will back to Victorian London.

So in the name of one of NW1’s most famous residents, we’re throwing it back to the 1800s with five little known local facts about CD.

  • When he was a kid he lived on Bayham Street in Camden Town. He slept in ‘a sort of cupboard some four and a half feet high, hanging over the stairway’. A blue plaque marks the spot.
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  • This very same pad inspired the simple home of Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family in a Christmas Carol, and the house that the Micawbers lived in from David Copperfield.
  • Later, around the age of 12, he started working at a boot polish factory. He moved in with a family friend, Mrs Roylance, who lived around the corner at Camden’s Little College Street. He drew on her character for Mrs Pipchin in Dombey and Son.
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  • He describes an imaginary place called Stagg’s Gardens in Dombey and Son – a tumbledown, scruffy street turned upside down by the arrival of a railway. This was the London and Birmingham railway, a real life line that used to be where Camden Market and the Roundhouse now is.
  • The estranged Mrs Dickens lived at Gloucester Crescent near Regent’s Park – the very same home of Alan Bennett and the Lady in the Van. She never saw Dickens again, but didn’t stop loving him and continued to read his books until the day she died.